The First Weeks Of Life

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The First Weeks Of Life Belong To Mother

Good breeders ensure good nutrition before birth and safety during delivery but then, during the first three weeks of life, the young are almost wholly the responsibility of their mother. This is the most ‘natural’ period of their lives, a time when we are least important to them but even so, handling a puppy or kitten in the presence of its mother for 15 minutes each day during this first three weeks actually accelerates its physical and emotional development. Contented young spend 90 per cent of the first three weeks sleeping. At birth their mother licked them and licked her teats, laying down a saliva scent trail for them to follow. If you are caring for a new litter, don’t go overboard with soapy hygiene. They need to smell their mother’s teats to successfully find them. Warmth is vital. Keep the room temperature over 24 degrees C or more. If a mother leaves her young for only a half hour their body temperature drops by 3 degrees C. Shivvering is a serious danger signal. A hot water bottle wrapped in an insulating towel is a decent, temporary, warm mother substitute when she leaves the nest to eat, play or carry out needed body functions.

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